In 2023, Should Todrick Hall Be an LGBTQ+ Role Model?
By Christine Siamanta Kinori
On January 5th, MTV announced their new show The Real Friends of WeHo, a new gay reality series that follows the lives of six LGBTQ+ personalities. According to MTV, the show will get as real as it can ever be as it follows, “the group of friends living, loving, and pursuing their passions in the West Hollywood community. ”
However, the news of this supposedly exciting show has not been welcomed warmly. First, the show is set to cut into RuPaul’s Drag Race time slot. Many are already appealing for the show to be cancelled or moved to another time slot.
The other reason the show has already gotten a bad reputation is because of one of the cast members. The show features Brad Goreski, Curtis Hamilton, Jaymes Vaughan, Dorión Renaud, Joey Zauzig and the infamous Todrick Hall.
Hall is a well-known singer-songwriter, choreographer and YouTuber. Todrick Hall first came into the public limelight as a contestant in the 9th season of American Idol. He soon after launched a YouTube account where he parodied songs and shared his original skits and songs. This YouTube account quickly cemented his position as one of the leading LGBTQ + online content creators on the platform and beyond.
He went on to become a resident choreographer and occasional judge on Drag Race. Hall spent years working on his art, performing and working with many artists such as Pentatonix, Nicole Schwarzenegger and Taylor Swift. His career was seemingly going well until issues started to make their way to the limelight.
In 2019, Hall was accused of failing to pay people who worked for him. At the time, multiple people came forward claiming Hall owed them money for the services they offered.
Among them was a London-based videographer who claimed that Hall owed him roughly $1,000 for the filming she did for his YouTube channel. She had been waiting for ten months but Hall had not made any effort to clear the bill. She also accused Hall and his team of taking her microphone and light during the project.
His former assistant, Tommy McKissock, released a copy of a 2018 legal complaint alleging wrongful termination, breach of contract, failure to pay minimum wage, failure to pay overtime, sexual harassment, and retaliation. According to McKissock, Hall settled the case out of court with the plaintiff, who turned out to be the manager of his album “Straight Outta Oz” and world tour.
Another accusation was made by dancer and choreographer, Thom White, who had worked with Hall on multiple projects . White claimed that he was yet to be paid for his work and went on to further accuse Hall of making anti-black comments. Hall later tweeted acknowledging that White was yet to be paid but will be paid soon. The scandal continued to grow as more artists started publicly speaking of their experiences working with Hall.
In 2022, Hall found himself on the bad side of fame thanks to his deplorable behaviour on Celebrity Big Brother. During his time in the house, Hall made numerous personal attacks on other contestants. His comments offended many viewers who viewed his tactics to win the game as underhanded and unnecessary.
A few weeks after leaving the house, Hall spoke to Entertainment Tonight saying, “I wish that the personal statements wouldn’t have been said. I wish I wouldn’t have crossed into a personal level.” He went on further to state he would like to apologize for “a lot of things that offended people,” but noted that, “for me, it was just a game.”
Many felt that his apology was lacking and pointed out that even after his last scandal, he still had not changed or learnt how to treat people respectfully. Many said that it was proof that he chose to pursue fame and money without caring who he hurts in his pursuit.
These are just a few reasons why many are wondering why MTV cast him for the new reality show. Did they hope to create buzz by including such a controversial figure? This might just be another classic case of bad publicity is still publicity. However, MTV should reconsider if it is worth it.
At the end of the day, the premises of the show is fine but the casting of Todrick Hall left a bad taste in many people’s mouth. We want more queer stories, but is this one too toxic? Do you think Hall can redeem his character in the show? Will you be watching?
About the Author:
Christine Siamanta Kinori grew up in a little village in Kenya known as Loitoktok near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. All she wanted to do when she grew up was to explore the world. Her curiosity led her to join Nairobi University to pursue a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She later got a job with an amazing travel magazine Nomad Africa which gave her the opportunity to explore Africa. She also writes for numerous travel websites about Africa and tries to create a new narrative in the media about our aesthetic continent.
Christine claims to have somewhat unhealthy addiction to TV and reading, as it is a fun way to keep herself occupied during the long journeys for her travel writing. She is also a believer of letting people be their beautiful selves. To her, love is love and it is the greatest gift we have as humans.